Throughout the creative fields, like with art and design, getting your work out there for an audience to find and connect with is essential. Taking your work online is a major outlet that many designers and artists opt for, especially given the versatility that the web offers. With so many options for displaying their work, the internet has a bevvy of brilliantly designed and developed portfolios that we can sort through for inspiration.
But what is more, is that we can also look through them to gain some hints on what works and what doesn’t for those times when we have to put together a portfolio for ourselves or our clients. There are not many tricks to remember that go beyond the usual ones we apply when designing. One that does stick out is to not allow the design to steal focus from the work it is meant to be highlighting.
Below we have gathered a mere handful of the online portfolios that are available fodder for this type of showcase, and presented them here with a slight breakdown of the designs. Take a look down through them and see the highlights that we have offered before you check out the portfolios for yourselves to see just what exactly we are talking about here.
The portfolio of fantasy artist, Daarken is filled breathtaking works, and are arranged and highlighted wonderfully by the site’s design. With large previews of the work, and a java based side scrolling setup, the site is very simple and throws all the focus on the work. However, the scrolling could cover more ground with each click. As it stands, the scrolling only moves through a couple of images at a time which gives it somewhat of a jumpy sort of feel.
Lesly Garreau’s web design portfolio site is graphically great, and nicely compact. The small previews of Lesly’s designs being taped up to the page work well to compliment the site and the whimsical nature of his work. The site itself further acts as an extension of the portfolio, which is one of the rare occasions when the site can steal focus from the work and not have it become a portfolio no-no.
Micah Lidberg’s illustrations and other works are the main highlight of this very minimalistic site, just as they should be. The navigation is very understated which works for the most part, but as it follows you down the page, it easily becomes lost in the works scrolling behind it. When you click on the previews and go into the deeper pages, there is a largely exaggerated and unnecessary gap at the bottom of the page. This makes it feel like there should be more on the pages than there is.
Dropr is a relatively new service for creatives that is still in beta, but still worth checking out. Very much in the style of Behance, this network is easy to use, and promises to be more powerful than most. The design is both stylish and imaginative, and on the main page, does stand in the spotlight which should be falling on the work. In fact the works being showcased are somewhat buried at the bottom of the page below the bells and whistles of the main site header. Unlike other portfolio communities which always seem to be highlighting the work, Dropr takes the center stage when you first arrive. The inner pages which display the work are much simpler and do not take the attention off of the work like the main page.
Russian illustrator Zutto’s portfolio is another fantastically minimal site design which lets the artists work do most of the heavy lifting. The large bold font on the plain, expansive background make the site feel open and comfortable for the viewer. The pieces drop down below the titles when you click on them, and the images remain open until you click on another title. The one flaw here is that you cannot click on the same title to close the image once it is opened. Clicking on the title of the open piece causes a jumpy effect as the piece effectively re-opens over the top of itself, rather than just closing the preview.
Made By Water
Made By Water is the online portfolio of designer and digital artist Jordan Vitanov. With big, bold typography filling the screen in the header, the site gives the impression of a large scope portfolio, which it is. Sort of. With a few pages of design previews to cycle through, the work feels somewhat slighted by keeping it in such a small display window. Clicking on the pictures, simply brings up the next preview image for the project, but never do you get a larger presentation of each piece. This kind of breaks from the inferences that can be drawn from the over sizing of the other site elements.
Checkland Kindleysides is an extremely elegant and imaginative portfolio. The site is wonderfully built, very sharp and clean which compliments the teams style and image. This is another example where the entire page stands as a much more shining example of their work, with its imaginative carved paper cutout elements, than the pieces that sit somewhat lifelessly in their gallery.
Australian artist Beastman has such an intricate and detailed style, and the site is very plain as to offset this characteristic of his work. The images are setup in large enough previews that the detail in the pieces comes out, without having to enlarge the images in any way. Overall the site perfectly contrasts the artists voice, and allows it to speak out through the gallery.
Online Portfolio of Sander Schuurman
The design team over at Square Circle certainly let their skills take center stage when they crafted their site. This is an impressive and very original design for sure, and serves as an outstanding portfolio for the most part. However, part of what makes it great, is also part of its biggest flaw. As imaginative as it is, it is also very resource heavy. Not to mention that it takes over sound immediately upon entering which tends to turn a lot of users off.
Grzegorz Kozak’s portfolio is another site where the fun, and whimsical nature of the page actually stand out more so than the works in the gallery. Which can have its downsides. However this is slightly offset by the large lightbox that opens up to display the work once you click on the previews. This does bring the focus and attention back to the work quite well.
When it comes to portfolios that place the focus specifically on the work, the site of interactive designer Paul Noble shines. This is a near flawless design, both in form and in function. Putting the work at the forefront. With an interesting navigational system built around displaying the portfolio pieces, the site has a very sleek and professional feel to it. Though the small navigation bar that shows the arrangement of the gallery, and even displays a thumbnail of each piece when you click on its corresponding bar, does not automatically shift the gallery over to that project. This feels like an oversight or worse a malfunction.
The portfolio of photographer and artist Carl Warner looks amazing on the surface. But the beauty does not go much deeper than that. Do not get us wrong, the flash based site is actually very unique and sleek. However, there is a huge problem with the functionality of the site, which spells trouble for his portfolio. Once you click on a preview image in one of the galleries and it takes you into the full image, there is no way back out. The back button in the browser is not applicable as you have not left the page, just gone deeper into the flash. There are no navigational elements present or any other ways to exit out. Also, this site does resize your browser, which gets under some users skin.
The portfolio of Anna Anjos is another fine example of the design freeing up the space to let the work speak for itself. Anna’s irreverent style and artistic voice is so unique that the design just steps aside brilliantly, with its complete minimal approach, and lets the work shine through. The navigation sits unobtrusively at the side, leaving the wide expanse of space to display the work. However, the nav elements are very light and overall subtle. Perhaps a bit too much so. Maybe a larger font or even just a bolder one would make it stand out a little more.
Fernando Volken Togni
Illustrator Fernando Volken Togni is another fantastic artist with a minimal portfolio design to allow for the work to take the proverbial center stage. Just like the last site, the simple site navigation stays off to the side, keeping the user’s eyes where they should be, on the preview images. Clicking on a preview not only opens a large version of the project, but it also provides you with a fullscreen viewing option which few portfolios have offered. The neatest part of the large view opening, is that though it seems like a new page has opened, the rest of the portfolio previews have simply moved below the large project image so that there is no need for the user to have to retrace their steps by going back.
Jeremy Geddes is a magnificent painter, whose portfolio site wonderfully captures the tone and feel of his work. With a simple compact page design, Jeremy’s work remains always remains the center of attention, having at least one large close up acting as a sort of header image as you browse the gallery of works. However, at first glance, and probably to some user’s confusion, the header like preview image is not clickable at all. Instead the user has to click on the small thumbnail preview, which then, instead of taking the header position, opens the image in full size in a new browser window.
Piipe serves as the portfolio of graphic designer and illustrator Felipe Barriga. This is a very colorful and compact site which stands out more so than most of the work that sits in the portfolio. Giving the visitor a sense of Felipe’s humor and style right off the bat, but again, in a much stronger dose than is found in the works being displayed. The window that opens up allows the user to scroll through the portfolio while still keeping the overall site compact, and from pouring down below the fold.
Roya Hamburger is a freelance illustrator and designer whose colorful, abstract works are wonderfully complimented by yet another very minimal design that overly embraces the whitespace at its disposal. Though again, this is another site where their attempt to make the navigation unobtrusive borders on too good. The small text and subtle coloring makes the navigation at times a little difficult to read.
Aleksandra Wolska is a photographer and web and graphic designer with an extremely sleek and professional portfolio design that places the right amount of focus just where it is needed. On the work. Offering the viewer various options to allow them to wade through the massive gallery sorted to their preference. Each of the previews opens up into a large, widescreen lightbox to display Aleksandra’s work in all its glory.
Identity Withheld is the portfolio of designer Temi Adeniyi, whose style and work fit together with the design of the site in a very complimentary fashion. The oversized header makes the site a little bulkier than most of the others we have featured, but with her style it really does work well. It sets the tone for the work to come. The deeper pages that display and explain the various portfolio projects keep the header, which put the majority of the work below the fold. This might feel like more of a slight to the work than it does feel like complimenting it to some.
Artist Dan Witz has a subtle, yet sleek portfolio that more plays into his traditional oil preferences than his often times semi punk-rock nature. The galleries are arranged by categories and presentation, with the deeper pages and previews arranged in thumbnail galleries. The full window lightbox that the larger previews open up in, is equally sleek and professional.
Bright Bulb Design Studio
Bright Bulb Design Studio is an extremely fun site the overflows with whimsy, and even the design boldness to use Comic Sans. Though given the old school comic book style and nature of the site, believe it or not, the Comic Sans font works, which a lot of designers would consider an impossible sin. Though the site does stand out so much more than most of the work as we have seen with a few others we have featured. This is also a case where the site style and nature does not really mesh well with the work it is displaying. This is handled nicely by a completely unobtrusive lightbox effect with the tiniest of this style bleeding over with the inclusion of the close button.
Molecube is the portfolio of a mobile game development team that fits perfectly with the playful nature that you would expect from their work. However, as far as portfolios go, there is very little featuring of their work. Given that they only have one title completed and released and one on the way, there is not much to expect, but some screenshots would be nice. Something other than the explanation and a small sample image like you would expect to be on the cover of any packaging. So though the site gives you a hint as to the nature of their work, they give you little else to showcase it.
Artsybury is the portfolio of a designer and artist from London, whose style and sense of whimsy come through in his uniquely presented work. The shelves and photographs that hold Bradbury’s work compliment the artist and his voice, while also giving the viewer a different sort of experience than most portfolio sites offer. While the site does stand out quite noticeably, the work it displays does still rise to that same level, so the site does not overshadow the work as we have seen in others.
That is All, Folks
That wraps up this showcase. Hopefully you found some inspiring approaches that you can apply to your own work in this arena. Also, given the breakdowns, we further hope that this post can be beneficial in taking your portfolio designs to the proverbial next level. Feel free to leave your thoughts on the showcase, or on what makes or breaks them in the comment section below.
Consider Some of Our Previous Posts
- 10 Steps To The Perfect Portfolio Website is a post from the Smashing archives that goes over the ways to putting together a successful online portfolio.
- SimpleFolio: A Free Clean Portfolio WordPress Theme is another post from the ghost of Smashing past where you can score a minimalistic portfolio theme for your WordPress needs.